Weekly Chasidic Story #713 (s5771-47 / 22 Tammuz 5771)

The Pacing, the Exclamation, the Confession

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi asked his visitor to please pay a visit to his colleague, the saintly Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, and convey his regards.

Connection: Seasonal -- 229th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin


The Pacing, the Exclamation, the Confession

When Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi began teaching the new path of Chabad Chasidism, he attracted many different types of individuals. Some sincere and some not so sincere. The latter were attracted to the novel intellectual discipline introduced by the Rebbe, but not so interested in taking the difficult steps necessary to internalize the lessons for the sake of self-improvement.
One such young man was a businessman by the name of Shlomo Feigin. Though he was brilliant and enjoyed the intellectual challenge of the Alter Rebbe's teachings, sadly, his heart was not in it.

It happened once that Shlomo needed to take a business trip to Leipzig. Prior to his departure, the Alter Rebbe summoned him. To Shlomo's surprise, the Rebbe wanted to hear his travel itinerary. And when the Rebbe heard that he was passing through the city of Karlin, he asked him to please pay a visit to his colleague, the saintly Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, and convey his regards. Shlomo promised to fulfill the Rebbe's request.

Upon arrival at the home of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin, Shlomo Feigin was shown to the waiting room, directly adjacent to the Rebbe's study. As he waited, he heard the Karliner pacing in his study.

After a minute or two, the door to the study swung open and Rabbi Shlomo walked out and began to pace in the waiting room. Suddenly, he stopped and loudly exclaimed: "Young man, young man, what will be if indeed there is a G d in this world?"

The Rebbe then returned to his room. Shlomo Feigin, mesmerized by this strange scene, continued to wait.

A few minutes went by. The Karliner's pacing inside his office could again be heard in the waiting room. Again, the door swung open in a rush. Out came Rabbi Shlomo. Again came the pacing and exclamation: "Young man, young man, what will be if indeed there is a G d in this world?!"

After this scene repeated itself a third time, Shlomo Feigin realized that this must be the reason for the Alter Rebbe's request that he visit the Karliner Rebbe. He was supposed to witness this scene. He left and resumed his journey to Leipzig.

Some time later, Shlomo Feigin's spiritual wellbeing took a major turn for the worse. He eventually succumbed to the promise of grandeur and power and forsook his faith. Highly gifted, he rapidly climbed the ladder of success till he was appointed to a high position in the Czar's government.

More years went by. Rabbi Shnuer Zalman had already passed on to his eternal rest. The government decided to build a highway that would traverse the entire breadth of the land. To the chagrin of the Chabad community, the proposed road's route ran directly through the place where the Alter Rebbe's holy remains had been laid to rest.

The chasidim decided to use whatever influence they had to change the route. Inquiries were made, and it turned out that the one in charge of the route was the apostate Jew Shlomo Feigin. The chasidim were greatly concerned. Would a former colleague turned outsider, a man like Shlomo Feigin, be sympathetic to this cause?
The venerable chasid Rabbi Moshe Vilenker, who years earlier had spent time together with Shlomo in the Alter Rebbe's court, was asked to intervene. An appointment was secured. The aged Rabbi Moshe sat down with Shlomo and explained the situation. Without hesitation, Shlomo promised to reroute the road. But he had one request of Reb Moshe: Could they sit together that evening and schmooze like in times of old? Rabbi Moshe agreed.

During the course of their discussion, Shlomo confessed to something most personal: "You see all of my success, all of my wealth, all of my power? I cannot enjoy it. I constantly hear the words of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin ringing in my head. 'Young man, young man, what will be if indeed there is a G d in this world?!'"
Source: Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from //chabad.org/766786

Connection: Seasonal -- 229th yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin

Biographical notes:
Rabbi Shnuer Zalman [18 Elul 1745-24 Tevet 1812], one of the main disciples of the Maggid of Mezritch, is the founder of the Chabad-Chasidic movement. He is the author of Shulchan Aruch HaRav and Tanya as well as many other major works in both Jewish law and the mystical teachings.

Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin [1738-22 Tammuz 1792], was also a student of the Maggid, as well as of Reb Aharon the Great of Karlin, whom he succeeded in 1772. Most of the Chassidic leaders of the next generation in the Lithuanian region were his disciples. He died Al Kiddush HaShem, stabbed by a Cossack while in the midst of the Amida prayer.


Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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